Where I live we have been on lockdown since March. This isn’t unusual and there are many, many places around the world in the same position, but I thought today I would talk a little bit about how this situation has been affecting my spiritual practices. I know I’m also not alone in finding that these uncertain times are indeed having an affect, but perhaps sharing my own experiences will help others who are feeling alone in their struggles with this or like they should be doing better.
First, let me describe a bit about my usual life and, in contrast, my current situation. This is a bit more personal than I usually am in this blog but I think its necessary before we get into how things have been changed for me and how things have been adapted to fit the current situation.
On a normal weekday I get up between 5 and 5:45am, wake my 12 and 16 year olds up for school before my niece (who gets the bus with my middle kid) is dropped off at 6:15am, get the older kids on the bus then get my youngest up for school and get him on the bus an hour later. I go for a walk if the weather is nice, then write until lunch time. After lunch I write until the kids get home. Throughout the day I have small spiritual activities I engage in, from meditations to making offerings to writing in my personal journal; most of these I do when I’m home alone and can concentrate without interruption. There are some things that I do with my kids of course, but many of my deeper practices are solitary by nature and can’t easily be done with others, especially children.
All of that is obviously out the window now. The children are doing schooling online while I try to keep working from home; I write every day (weekdays and weekends) and that isn’t something that can change if I’d like to pay my bills. Life now is about juggling all the usual stressors plus the added factors of being surrounded by people 24/7, having to help my kids with their school work and help them navigate the turbulent waters of their current reality, and try to keep everyone as safe as possible. My daily spirituality took a hit because that was the first thing to get cut back when everything else was taking priority; this was particularly difficult for me because my spirituality is foundational for me and is usually what I rely on in difficult times.
I know I am not alone in this and honestly knowing that is a comfort.
The timing of all of this has also been especially intense for me spiritually. I underwent an initiatory experience at the end of February. Several of the holidays that I celebrate in my particular style of Fairy Witchcraft fall in April and May. This has meant that I spent the first month leading into the lockdown dealing with some major spiritual adjustments, and the second and into the third months trying to balance those changes with several major celebrations. This added a deeper tension to an already tense situation.
I find myself trying to celebrate holy days under restriction and trying to maintain a private daily spiritual practice constantly surrounded by other people. Yet I can’t help but feel that there’s a synchronicity to some of this timing, to moving into a new phase of my spirituality at a point that, by its nature, is challenging me to reassess what I value and why. It is so easy during the normal course of things to simply move forward but nothing is normal right now, not for me, and that has forced me to take a hard look at how my spirituality is changing, why, and what that actually means for me. I am in a place that is asking me to look at what my priorities really are and this, whether I mean it to or not, dovetails with that same spiritual shift and need to realign my spirituality by deciding in that context what matters to me.
My Spirituality in the Time of Covid
So where then does that leave me? Everything has been simplified, even down from what was already a fairly streamlined practice. I have learned what is truly essential to my spiritual practice and am pleasantly surprised to see what lies at the heart of my faith. I have always been the sort who enjoys pageantry and frills and although that had begun to change with my first initiation in 2016, this newest one and the crucible that is the pandemic has truly refined things down for me.
This situation has also forced me to take a hard look at where the Daoine Uaisle I am connected to fit in with wider human interest – or don’t. And what that means for me as someone who serves them. I have seen people across social media talking about the spiritual implications of the pandemic or how their gods/spirits would or wouldn’t be involved in such a thing and that has led me to some new insights into the relationship my Gentry have with the human world and, by extension, how I relate to them and their viewpoint. It can be so easy to forget how utterly foreign the Good Neighbours are when we begin to feel comfortable around them in any sense.
I have not had nearly as much time to actively participate in my religion as I did before, but I have had more time to contemplate the cosmology and metaphysics of it. Because that is something I can do watching tv with the kids or cleaning around the house. I don’t take my solitude for granted anymore. And I have had far more time than I am comfortable with re-finding my self underneath a lot of built-up assumptions and social conditioning.
I have also found that my dreams remain fertile ground for communication with the Other and that I now appreciate more the time I can make to journey or meditate. Without the crutch of fancier rituals and formal meditations to fall back on, my dreams and journeywork have become even richer and my connection through there, which I always thought was strong, even stronger. I am digging down to the core of who I am and what my spirituality practically is and nurturing everything that exists there; what has grown isn’t exactly what I expected but it’s all the more beautiful for that.
Perhaps one good thing about all this is that I have been forced to take a hard look at what truly matters to my spiritual life. It is so easy over time to add non-essential things – flourishes and decorations – because we can and because they can seem necessary. But being pushed into an extreme situation like this, one where I don’t have the luxury of free time (without children) or of extended resources or even to be able to go further than my own neighbourhood except for utterly essential things, has made me understand what I do need. I need myself – and my Self. I am learning every day more and more about who that Self is. I need basic things to offer like milk and honey but even without that I have water and my voice and my actions.
I have learned not to judge myself if my ritual becomes a few stolen moments under the night sky and a quick offering of clean water. I have learned that making my best effort is entirely a matter of circumstance and unique moments, and I can’t expect that effort to always be an improvement on the last – sometimes anything really is better than nothing. I have learned that my spirituality is a part of who I am on the deepest level and that anchors me.
What is at the core of your own spirituality, when everything else is stripped away?